A talking point for both coach Lovie Smith and GM Phil Emery from early in training camp is resurfacing again, and that is the quality of the Bears depth.
"We have good depth," Smith said again Friday.
Whether it's true or not has yet to be proven, but returns so far haven't confirmed it. In fact, it's indicated just the opposite.
"During the course of the year, you have to plan on playing without players for a brief period of time," Smith said. "We thought we would get lucky as late as it was in the year, but that's not the case."
So the Bears will play Sunday without LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring), CB Tim Jennings (shoulder) and WR Earl Bennett (concussion). Jennings was the last of the three to officially be listed out for Sunday when the injury report came out Friday.
The injury rash hit first when Jay Cutler suffered a concussion against Houston in Week 10. They lost the only start made by their backup quarterback, Jason Campbell. Last year, they were 1-5 with backup QBs starting.
Since the injury rash, the Bears have gone 1-3. This doesn't speak to the improved depth they said they have. And with a loss at Minnesota, they could find themselves in a spiraling situation much like they did last year after Cutler's injury.
However, this time they have a healthy Cutler. It's supporting positions on offense and defense -- and their defensive leader -- they have to replace.
"It's not the end of the road right now," Hester said. "We've still got four games left. It can be a big turnaround."
It would have to be a turnaround initiated largely by the reserve players Emery and Smith thought they could count on back when camp began.
Mum's the word: Hester wouldn't say whether he is full go on all returns for the Vikings game after getting over his concussion.
"I don't know, we'll see," was all he would say.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub offered nothing better, saying: "He looks good in practice. Beyond that, I don't know."
No fan: Toub said he is no fan of commissioner Roger Goodell's idea for doing away with kickoffs and letting a punter essentially handle that duty.
"It would affect the kick-returners more than anything," Toub said. "You are still going to need a kicker for the field goal. But you won't need a kick-returner who is strictly a kick-returner. You wouldn't need that guy.
"You'd need a guy more of a guy like Devin (Hester) that is a great punt returner. Those guys would be at a premium as well as a punter."
Not just any type of punter.
"No question, you need to have a guy that can bomb it directionally," he said. "That style kick would be definitely en vogue, for sure."
Toub thinks the changes already may have impacted the kickoff game enough to make it safer. There are fewer kick returns. Robbie Gould already has 38 touchbacks, only five short of his career best with four games to play.
"I think they are getting what they were expecting to get by changing those rules," Toub said. "There are definitely fewer collisions, hard, hard collisions like you used to see. I don't know why any more changes need to be made."
A big sigh: The Vikings losing Percy Harvin removed one headache for the Bears defense, which finds focusing on Adrian Peterson a big enough problem.
"[Harvin] is as good a running back as there is in the game once he gets the ball," said Briggs, referring to the WR's ability to make yards after the catch. "But him not being there, there's a little bit of a relief because he can create some match-up problems."
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.